Cando, which means beehive in Persian, is one of several Iranian restaurants to open in Dubai in recent weeks. It’s also by far the best. Located where Bahar Narenj used to be on the pedestrian walkway between the Twin Towers and Radisson Creek in Deira, its interior is tastefully simple without being plain. While wide plank wood flooring gives the restaurant’s atrium style enclosure a touch of modesty and warmth, it is left to the charming corner wall strips of Persian tiles to give the venue its identity. There are fully separated smoking and non-smoking dining areas of which I found the latter surprisingly (and thankfully) free of the smell of shisha and cigarettes.
Central to Cando’s kitchen (and consequently its menu) is the ever so charismatic Chef Farshid, a fashionably dressed veteran of Dubai’s culinary scene with an imposing Qajar-style moustache who is from Mashhad in the north-east of Iran. Gastronomically, Mashhad is famous for its lamb, especially its Shishlik lamb chops and slow-braised lamb shank and neck. It is also home to a little flower called the Crocus Sativus from which we get that amazing spice – Saffron.
There are two very famous restaurants in Mashhad, Shandiz which specialises in Shishlik and Pesaran-e Karim (Karim’s Sons) which specialises in the most amazing slow-cooked lamb shank and neck on the planet. Never in my life have I had anything as good as at these two restaurants – until now. Somehow Chef Farshid has managed to reproduce Pesaran-e Karim’s braised lamb shank and neck. He even serves them with the customary caramelized onions and garlic – Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!! His Shishlik is close enough but not as spot on as the shank/neck.
I went through all that to say this, don’t waste your time with anything else at Cando – go straight for one (or all) of the above. If ordering a mixed grill, stick to koobideh, barg (it’s excellent) and the shishlik and no matter what you do, remember to tell them NOT to overcook. I do not recommend the Jujeh or the Masti – neither are in the same league as the lamb. If you are there on a Friday and want to try something different, consider the Kaleh Patche (sheep’s head and trotters) – it’s excellent. I was not impressed with the Āsh-e Reshteh or the Mirza Ghasemi or even any of their rice dishes. For me, nothing brings out the flavour of these meat dishes like white rice with saffron and butter, and Cando doesn’t stint on its saffron nor its butter.
Service at Cando is unbelievably good for a restaurant this young. Much of the credit for this must be given to manager Baktash, a veteran of Farsi JLT, and his amazing staff. I was particularly impressed by young Kamel from Evaz in the south of Iran. In addition to his friendly yet professional nature, he fussed over us like we were his long-lost uncles. The rest of the team were equally good.
Cando has shot straight into my number one spot. That’s not to say it’s faultless – not in the least; in fact, there just as many things which I do not like as things I like. But – OMG – the things I do like, I like with a passion – the braised lamb’s neck itself is worth a trip from any part of Dubai, any part of the UAE for that matter. I don’t think I’ve ever said that about anything I’ve eaten in Dubai. Mark my words, if Chef Farshid and his team can keep it consistent, this is a legend in the making.
I end this review with special thanks to my food guru, HRH Mansoor Madani, the King of Kong who, in introducing me to Cando, has outdone himself this time…
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Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join me on Instagram @ravenousxerxes or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.